What do you do when there’s a big test coming up tomorrow and you’re not prepared? Do you study really hard with every spare minute, or do you just give up and go party? Or maybe you get depressed and hide in bed? Or maybe you just “get the flu”, you somaticize it, store it, or process it in your body, which buys you time without you ever having to be conscious of it.
What do you do when you hear that someone you’re close to was killed in a car accident? Do you slow down, feel the grief and anger, express your sorrow, be with others who are feeling the same? Or do you pretend it didn’t happen? Or do you pretend it’s okay, it doesn’t matter? Do you drink, or take a drug, to take the edge off? Do you stay really busy so you don’t have to think about it? Do you exercise even more than usual? Do you binge on chocolate?
What about when someone treats you badly — maybe they never listen to you. Do you avoid the situation? What if you can’t avoid the person? Do you make excuses for him or her?
Most of these things are ways of denying what’s going on around us. Life isn’t all pretty. In fact, a lot of things suck. Notice how you cope. Notice the patterns in your personal life. Because you are using these same patterns in response to things in the wider world.
When you find yourself in bed, bummed out for no reason, or staying ridiculously busy, or drinking, or taking drugs, or overexercising, or overeating, or avoiding the news — ask yourself: What am I denying? What am I ignoring? Is it in my personal life, or in the wider world? What don’t I want to see? Or know? Maybe I don’t want to see how the country was lied into a war, in which people are dying every day... Maybe I don’t want to see the deaths. Or maybe I don’t want to see that the earth is changing, and the way I live is making it worse... Or maybe I don’t want to see how our civil liberties are being eroded.
And when you’re clear about what you’re denying, and you admit it, then you can begin to deal with it in a healthy way. Then you can take action!